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VC++ Sample:  Outlookbar-style menu  control interface with source code download.

By Dheth.

Outbar image


This is a simple control that, much like the outlook side bar, docks on the left side of your main window. Basically consists in several folders, containing groups of items. Those items can be either child windows or labels connected to the standard menu command's ID.

Their appearance can be customized so to act like rows in a list box, check boxes, radio buttons, or simple links. All the actions and the status of those items is controlled by the standard MFC command handler and command update handler.


I have never seen the latest outlook beside for one, small, screenshot; so I don't really know if this control resembles its properly or not.

I tried to include support for all I saw in this screenshot, but I'm sure much will still be different or wrong. It has been written for use in one of our internal applications, but .. since I found it cute, I thought maybe someone else could've been interested into it. The control also works well along with the BCGSoft library, if you are using it, without needing any change.

Using the code

The control itself consist in 2 files, outlook2ctrl.h and .cpp. To use it in your code, start by including those 2 files in the project. Also, if you wish it to make use of the gradient drawings on the buttons, change the WINVER define in the project stdafx.h file from 0x400 to 0x500.

If WINVER is below 0x500, the graphic won't look as good. (0x500 will mean compiled for Win 2K & XP).

Include in your main frame header file the new control in this way:

#include "Outlook2Ctrl.h"

class CMainFrame : public CFrameWnd
    COutlook2Ctrl wndOutBar;

The outbar is derived from the standard MGC CControlBar (or from the CBCGToolBar) and docks normally on the left side of the main frame.

The CMainFrame::OnCreate is a good place to create and initialize it:

int CMainFrame::OnCreate(LPCREATESTRUCT lpCreateStruct)

// enable dockings only on the other 3 sides

    // create the control
    wndOutBar.Create(this, ID_MYOUTBAR);

    // you can add images to the items in the control by using icons 16x16
    // don't destroy them after inserting the items as the
    // control won't duplicate the handles but use them straight

    HICON hIco1 = (HICON) LoadImage(AfxGetInstanceHandle(),
    HICON hIco2 = (HICON) LoadImage(AfxGetInstanceHandle(),
    HICON hIco3 = (HICON) LoadImage(AfxGetInstanceHandle(),

    wndOutBar.AddFolderRes("Contacts", IDI_ICON1);
            wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Friends", hIco1, 
                 COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_SELECT, ID_CATEGORIES_FRIEND);
            wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Private", hIco2, 
                 COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_SELECT, ID_CATEGORIES_PRIVATE);
            wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Work", hIco3, 
                 COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_SELECT, ID_CATEGORIES_WORK);

        wndOutBar.AddFolderItem("View Style");
            wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Grid", NULL, 
                 COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_RADIO, ID_VIEW_GRID);
            wndOutBar.AddSubItem("List", NULL, 
                 COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_RADIO, ID_VIEW_LIST);
            wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Cards", NULL, 
                 COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_RADIO, ID_VIEW_CARDS);

                 NULL, COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_CHECK, ID_FIELDS_NAME);
                 NULL, COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_CHECK, ID_FIELDS_PHONE);
                 NULL, COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_CHECK, ID_FIELDS_ADDRESS);

            wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Create new contact ..", 
            wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Import contacts ..", 
                 NULL, COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_COMMAND, ID_TEST_IMPORTCONTACT);

In this code, we do a simple window creating and we then insert a few items. The control stores the data in a tree-like way. The base of the tree is made by Folders items (like the Contact, Find, etc buttons you can see in the image). The Folders contain Items - which are sort of groups; and they contain Subitems that are what actually doing the job. So you insert a Folder, an Item, and assign Subitems to that.

The Subitems are handled as if they were items of a menu. They are checked/unchecked by using the standard CCmdUI's system. Selecting them will cause a menu command to be generated, if appropriate. So it's basically a permanent popup menu with a new graphical style, where Folders are popups items, Subitems are the menu items, and Items are description labels.

wndOutBar.AddFolderRes("Contacts", IDI_ICON1);
            hIco1, COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_SELECT, ID_CATEGORIES_FRIEND);

This part adds first a folder, named Contact, with icon IDI_ICON1 as graphic. It then adds a label named Categories to the folder, and adds a menu command named Friends that will trigger a menu command ID_CATEGORIES_FRIEND when clicked. The subitem will have a small item on the side (with handle hIco1) and will be of type OCL_SELECT.

The "types" available are the following:

  • COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_SELECT : the subitem will appear as a selected listbox item when the OnCmdUI of the commandID returns Checked
  • COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_RADIO : the subitem will appear as a radio button; status will be determined by the checked/unchecked of the associated commandID; no command will be sent when user clicks on an already selected item
  • COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_COMMAND : the subitem will appear as a normal hot-tracked link. The commandID command will be sent whenever user clicks on it, unless the OnCmdUI returns not enabled
  • COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_CHECK : the subitem will appear as a check box; status will be determined by the checked/unchecked of the associated commandID; no command will be sent when user clicks on an already selected item
  • COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_HWND : this value is settled automatically when using the following function:
    int AddSubItem(HWND hChildWindow, 
           bool bStretchTheChild, int FolderId, int ItemId)

    Takes in the child window to insert, a stretch option value and the folder and item ID. The child window has to be already created when inserted. It has to have as parent, the outlook bar control, and the WS_CHILD flag. If the stretch variable isn't settled, the child will retain the value it had at creation; otherwise, the height of the child window will be enlarged to fit all the area from insertion to the bottom of control. The child window will anyway always be stretched to cover all the width of the outlook bar control. The FolderID and ItemID variables in all the insertion functions by default will be settled to -1, and thus referring to the "last" parent inserted.

The other functions for inserting items are the following:

int AddFolder(const char * FolderName, 
         HICON ImageofFolder or int ResourceIdofFolderIcon);
int AddFolderItem(const char * ItemName, int FolderID = -1)
int AddSubItem(const char * SubItemLabel, 
         HICON ImageofFolder or int ResourceIdofFolderIcon, 
         DWORD style, DWORD commandID, int FolderId, int ItemId)

The const char * parameters are the labels of the items/folders/subitem. The HICON handles or IDs are used for the images linked to the folders/ subitems. Note that some kind of subitems can't have an icon linked to them (checkbox and radio box style). Those functions all return the index of the inserted element. You can use it for inserting other elements into the same folder, or just leave them to the default -1 to add them to the last one.

When a subitem will be selected, you will receive a normal menu command.

Points of interest

The control has been tested just under Windows 2000 and XP. It should work even under earlier versions of Windows, but some resource memory leak may be possible. It has nothing really amazing in it, but is simple to use and cute to watch (I hope!). Enjoy it then!



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